Five Injured In New Clashes In Togo’s Capital

Protesters gather in the streets where opposition supporters erect makeshift barricades and block roads in Lome. YANICK FOLLY / AFP

Five people were shot and injured on Thursday as gangs of youths and the security forces clashed sporadically in Togo’s capital Lome, ahead of a planned opposition protest that the government has ruled illegal.

Eric Dupuy, a spokesman for the main opposition National Alliance for Change (ANC) party, said the five were shot in the Be area of the city and two of them were in a “critical” condition.

Shots were fired around the home of ANC leader Jean-Pierre Fabre, he added.

Amnesty International’s country director in Togo, Aime Adi, confirmed that five people had been shot and wounded, adding they were taken to hospital in Lome for treatment.

The streets were largely deserted ahead of the rally, which the opposition coalition has refused to cancel despite a government ban on weekday marches on security grounds.

Demonstrators plan to march to the offices of the West African bloc ECOWAS to demand the resignation of President Faure Gnassingbe.

Gnassingbe has been president since 2005 and is the scion of Africa’s longest-ruling dynasty that has been in power in Togo since 1968.

At least four people were killed on Wednesday in Lome and the country’s second city Sokode as protesters clashed with police and soldiers, the government said.

In Lome, most shops were still shut by midday (1200 GMT) and the streets were virtually empty apart from the occasional motorbike-taxi, an AFP correspondent said.

“Activity is at a standstill after days of disruption by the marches,” said one mobile phone vendor in Deckon, the city’s commercial hub.

“What’s happening is weighing heavily on us. The politicians need to talk to find a solution to this crisis.”

– Game of cat and mouse –

In Be, an opposition stronghold in the southeastern part of the capital, groups of youths attempted to set up barricades and burn tyres.

But the security forces, who were deployed in large numbers, sporadically fired teargas in a lengthy game of cat and mouse.

In other areas such as Amoutive, efforts were underway to remove barricades and the remains of burned-out cars that had been torched on Wednesday.

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets since August to call for Gnassingbe’s resignation and limit the presidential mandate to two, five-year terms.

Twelve people, most of them teenagers, have been killed since August.

Read Also: Kenyan Child Wounded By Stray Bullet As Protests Rage

In Paris, the foreign ministry said it was following events in its former colony “with concern”.

“We strongly condemn the recent violence that has left several people dead or injured (and) call for calm on both sides and dialogue,” it said in a statement.

A source at the Togo presidency said Benin’s head of state, Patrice Talon, made a low-key visit to Lome on Wednesday night to discuss the situation with Gnassingbe.

AFP

Mobile Internet Off In Togo Before Opposition Protests

Indian men use their mobile phones after local autorithies shut down internet services in the state of Punjab.NARINDER NANU / AFP

Mobile internet services were off in Togo on Thursday, where new opposition protests were planned after huge anti-government demonstrations across the country.

On social media such as Facebook and Twitter, which were still accessible using intermittent Wi-Fi access in the capital, Lome, users called for services to be restored.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Internet Without Borders group called the shutdown “an attack on Togolese citizens’ freedom of expression online”.

Amnesty International’s Togo director, Aime Adi, told AFP by telephone that the internet and mobile phone networks were completely off on Thursday in several cities in northern Togo.

Information minister Gilbert Bawara told several local radio stations on Wednesday evening that the government reserved the right to impose restrictions on access to the internet.

Amnesty’s Adi estimated that at least 100,000 opposition supporters marched against the government in Lome and several other cities across the country on Wednesday.

Other opposition figures put the number at one million.

The demonstrators want constitutional reform, including a limit on presidential mandates to two, five-year terms, and a two-round voting system.

The current president, Faure Gnassingbe, took over in 2005 after the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who came to power following a coup in 1967.

AFP

African Heads Of State Sign Charter On Maritime Security

Heads of State in Africa sign Charter on maritime safety African leaders have adopted and signed a draft Charter on Maritime Safety, Security and Development.

The agreement is aimed at establishing a roadmap on maritime security in Africa and causing development and economic growth through Africa’s oceans and seas.

At a summit in Lome, the capital of Togo, the African leaders signed the charter which is the culmination of previous summits, to provide peace, security and stability on Africa’s blue economy.

Over 90 per cent of Africa’s trade is maritime-based.

Prior to the signing of the charter, series of discussions were held by international maritime specialists and experts who met for five days.

They examined maritime piracy, trafficking, illegal fishing, development of the blue economy and protection of marine ecosystem.

These discussions culminated in a charter the Chairperson of African Union (AU), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and President Idriss Deby of Chad referred to as an uncommon feat.

nkosazana-dlamini-zuma
Chairperson of African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Channels Television’s correspondent, Omelogo Nnadi, says nearly 3,000 delegates from 54 African countries and and outside the continent were in Lome for the African Union Extraordinary Summit on maritime security and development.

The summit had focused on mapping out an African strategy for the protection of the continent’s seas.

A Very Major Step

For the development of the continent’s blue economy to happen, Africa needs to run like a cheetah, UN Economic Commission Executive Secretary, Dr Carlos Lopes, says.

“What we need is a much deeper understanding of the transformation that is required by the continent and that transformation can be represented by the fastest moving animal on earth which happens to be in Africa – the cheetah,” he pointed out.

He said Africa must prepare for the worst while expecting the best.


The Chairperson of the AU Commission had listed major challenges facing the continent’s maritime development.

She says Africa needs to have its own products being transported out of the continent with its own vessels.

yemi-osinbajo-in-togo
Nigeria’s Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo says the charter is a major step

After the signing of the Charter on Maritime Safety, Security and Development, the President of Chad, Mr Deby and the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, said the agreement was a big achievement for Africa’s development.

“One of the critical things here is that we have been able to get everyone to agree, which by itself, is a very major step. It, of course, enjoins every African country to provide certain services and armed services in their own locality,” Professor Osinbajo stressed.

Before now, vast potentials of Africa’s blue economy have been infiltrated by criminals, pirates and smugglers, but the leaders have made a strong commitment to the monitoring and coordinating of activities in the continent’s waters through the charter.

Part of what the leaders plan to achieve with the new charter are job creation and revenue increase that could run into billions of dollars.